Liberals, Tories agree: MP expenses aren’t for the public to see

Liberals, Tories agree: MP expenses aren’t for the public to see

The $500-million House (Image: Renato Lorini) 

After months of stories about what the public should and shouldn’t know, we were surprised to come across a small item in the Toronto Sun about how the Liberal and Conservative parties are committed to making sure that MPs’ expenses—and everything else in the budget for Parliament—stays in a black box.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff both seem to agree: There is no need to make MPs’ expenses public.

In separate interviews on Sunday, both politicians were asked whether the $500-million budget for the House of Commons and the Senate, that includes MPs’ and senators’ expenses, should be reviewed by the auditor general.

Not the biggest matter in the world this week, but a half-billion dollars being spent without the withering scrutiny of Sheila Fraser (a.k.a. the Woman Who Brought Down Paul Martin) sounds like a recipe for a scandal.

Our party leaders seem to have learned well the lessons of the British Parliament, which spent most of last year embroiled in a spending scandal when MPs’ and Lords’ expenses were made public after years of legal challenges, leading to some pretty shocking and hilarious revelations. Wikipedia, as always, has a pretty extensive list, but the gold medal in absurdity goes to (and we’re not making this up) the Third Viscount Hailsham, Douglas Martin Hogg, for allegedly claiming more than £2,000 to have his moat cleaned.

Of course, this being Canada, if the expenses are ever made public, it’s a sure bet that none of the claims will be nearly as interesting.

No need to make MPs’ expenses public: Iggy [Toronto Sun]
United Kingdom Parliamentary expenses scandal [Wikipedia]